Mary Big Bull-Lewis
Owner & Graphic Designer, Wenatchi Wear
Mary Big Bull-Lewis is an Indigenous entrepreneur. She owns & operates R Digital Design and Wenatchi Wear alongside her husband. She is an enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribe; Wenatchi, Entiat and Moses bands & a descendant of the Blackfoot Tribe. Mary enjoys hiking along her ancestral homelands, baking, photography, creating art and learning. She is the proud mom of her son, Riley, and the families 3 dogs, Wilson, Wicket and Winnie.
Part 1 – Introduction
Meet Mary Big Bull-Lewis, a graphic designer and owner of Wenatchi Wear, a clothing brand that is passionate about creating awareness and empowering Indigenous Peoples through authentic threads. She is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribe in Washington State – from Moses, Entiat, and Wenatchi bands & a descendant of the Blackfoot Tribe in Brocket, Alberta, Canada.
Part 2 – Where do you find inspiration?
Mary discusses how she and her husband find their inspiration from the outdoors and how reconnecting with her culture led her to start Wenatchi Wear.
Part 3 – How does storytelling coming into your art?
Storytelling became integral for the Wenatchi Wear brand. Using the stories from her culture, Wenatchi Wear aims to create wearable art to bring awareness to the stories, like “Two Bears”.
Part 4 – What is your background?
Mary walks us through her journey to entrepreneurship from working in the medical field to starting a graphic design business, R Digital, with her husband. She also discusses the importance of giving back to her community.
Part 5 – What school subjects do you use in art?
Mary talks about how she uses math in her art, even though it was “never her strong point”. She also talks about how general computer knowledge is vital for creating digital art.
Part 6 – What is your mission with Wenatchi Wear?
Mary shares how Wenatchi Wear aims to bring awareness to Native American history and start conversations in our community about these histories, including in the present tense.
Part 7 – Teaching Through Wearable Art
With every design, Wenatchi Wear includes the story that inspired the art with the goal to educate in a different way.
Part 8 – Examples of Work
Mary walks us through her process for creating her designs, from sketch to finished product.
Part 9 – Meet Mary Big Bull-Lewis (for students)
Use this video to introduce Mary to your students! She walks through what she does and even shares the “Two Bears” story.
The NCESD Early Learning team has prepared a lesson plan for you to use in your classroom that was inspired by Mary’s work. You can view the document below or click the “pop out” button in the top right corner to open it in a new tab to download the PDF file.